STEVE WHARTON stood in the belly of 15th Street station, waiting for the Broad Street Line, wearing a green Eagles jersey and a matching hat.

He was among the first Eagles fans to arrive at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday morning, for the Eagles' first open training camp of the year. Fans began to stream into the stadium just after eight o'clock.

Wharton was born and raised in northeast Philly. His jersey, number 32, has his last name stitched across his shoulder blades. It used to be a Ricky Watters jersey, he explained, but Watters' final season with the Eagles rubbed him the wrong way.

"For who, for what?" Wharton said, and he rolled his eyes.

Wharton walked up the stairs and emerged at the stadium complex, and dark gray rain clouds continued to recede. He was coming either way, he said, but he was glad the rain had stopped.

A woman wearing a black Malcolm Jenkins T-shirt chimed in.

"The Lord blessed us with good weather today" she said, "just for this."

New season, same Eagles fans.

The upcoming season represents a blank slate to Wharton, a fresh start after the brutal frustration of Chip Kelly's swan song.

"Chip drove me (bleeping) nuts," Wharton said. "(Doug) Pederson is an upgrade, for sure."

Not every Eagles fan at the Linc was so confident in the team's new head coach.

John Marion, a Cherry Hill, N.J., native, arrived at the stadium just after eight. He and his three sons camped out in the front row of section 118. John wore a white Carson Wentz jersey, a Father's Day gift from his oldest son, J.C.

The Marions believe in Wentz, John said. He seems to have all the tools. His son, Alex, thinks Wentz is better than No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

But what about Pederson?

"He makes me nervous," Marion said, chuckling. "If he's Andy Reid's protégé, won't you get the good and the bad?"

Still, John feels good about the direction the team is heading. He liked the Eagles re-signing Fletcher Cox to a extension. The whole family did, really; he's one of their favorite neighbors. The defensive lineman lives just a few houses down from the Marions. Cox rides his bike often, John said, and is great with the kids in the neighborhood.

"We're just hoping he doesn't take that money and move to a nicer house," Marion said.

John looked around the stadium, an hour before practice. He was surprised to see the stands so empty.

Last summer, the team's second open practice drew a staggering 43,000 fans. The attendance didn't come close to matching that figure Sunday. The threat of rain may have scared off a few people. The early-morning Sunday start time may have done the same.

But nothing could deter one family of North Dakota natives.

Mike, LeAnn, and Kennedy Hunke woke up at five o'clock Sunday morning, jumped in their car in Howard County, Md., and drove two hours to Philadelphia to watch Wentz practice.

Mike and LeAnn both grew up in Bismarck, N.D., the same town Wentz was born in 23 years ago. They both attended North Dakota State University, where Wentz played football. And now their daughter, Kennedy, is a sophomore at the same school. Last year, she occasionally sat at the same dining hall table as Wentz.

In North Dakota, Mike and LeAnn explained, most people are Vikings fans when they root for an NFL team.

But Wentz is so likable, they said they might end up rooting for the Eagles this season. They'll certainly be pulling for the man himself.

"He's just a good old North Dakota boy," LeAnn said. "He seems to take everything in stride."

Fans could been seen wearing No. 11 in the parking lots, concourses, and stands. Everywhere you looked, a replica jersey or heather-gray T-shirt bore the number and name of the franchise's hopeful savior.

When Wentz completed a fairly routine out-route to Xavier Rush just before 11 o'clock, the crowd roared. There didn't seem to be as much interest in Sam Bradford, the starting quarterback who led a 7-on-7 drill at the other end of the field.

The rookie was the main attraction Sunday, as he will likely be during the first preseason game against visiting Tampa Bay on Aug. 11, and the second open practice on Aug. 14.

Whether he will actually play this season, however, is of course a much different question.

"I hope Wentz doesn't play this year," Marion said. "If he doesn't, that means the Eagles are winning."

For now, Eagles fans seem content to devour Wentz's practices, don his jerseys, and prepare for a season in which they won't see much of the team's most popular backup.

@adamwhermann